Tag Archive | "Lardarius Webb"

Extra motivation not required for Lions’ Johnson

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Extra motivation not required for Lions’ Johnson

Posted on 12 December 2013 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Ravens safety Matt Elam certainly provided the flavor needed for an extra day of buildup for Monday’s meeting with the Detroit Lions.

While also offering words of praise for All-Pro wide receiver Calvin Johnson, Elam naively called the 28-year-old receiver “pretty old” while questioning the 6-foot-5, 236-pound wideout’s physicality on Wednesday. Johnson took the bait in Thursday’s conference call with the Baltimore media, vowing to show Elam and the Baltimore secondary his “old-man strength,” but anyone extending the rookie’s comments any further in thinking it will impact Monday’s outcome is reaching.

Though the 22-year-old Elam put a target on his back and left himself open for criticism should Johnson get behind him for a long touchdown or two, you don’t need outside motivation when you’re the best wide receiver on the planet and on track to become one of the greatest in NFL history. Those pointing to Johnson’s 329-yard receiving day against Dallas that followed Dez Bryant’s inflammatory comments earlier this year overlook the role the Cowboys’ 32nd-ranked pass defense played in the career day.

Simply put, there’s no such thing as waking a sleeping giant when he’s already been stomping on opponents every week.

“Would you think that Calvin Johnson is going to come to a Monday night game on national television and not play his best game anyway [until] a rookie said something? I doubt it,” said cornerback Jimmy Smith, who would suffer as much as anyone if Elam’s comments actually impacted the receiver’s Monday performance. “If they’re going to take it as, ‘That’s poster-board [material]; we’re going to take it even harder now,’ then they don’t have the right mentality coming to play a Monday night game anyway.”

Elam’s silly comments aside, the Ravens face arguably the biggest nightmare in the NFL today in trying to slow the seventh-year receiver, who last year set an NFL single-season record with 1,964 receiving yards. Johnson ranks second in the league with 1,351 receiving yards and second with 12 touchdown catches as he’s reined in 75 passes this season.

Fortunate to only have to face Johnson once every four years, the Ravens will need to contain the monstrous playmaker to earn only their second road win of the season and maintain their enviable position as the current No. 6 seed in the AFC. Meanwhile, the Lions find themselves in a dogfight with Chicago and Green Bay for the NFC North division title.

“‘Megatron.’ Anytime somebody has a nickname like that, the kid is real,” linebacker Terrell Suggs said. “He is probably arguably the best receiver in the game. It’s going to take all 11 guys, especially tending to him. The pass rush is going to be key; running the ball is going to be key. They do a lot of things with him, [and] he ends up in a lot of places. But it’s also fun [when] you get to play against a guy like that.”

Looking beyond his obvious physical gifts, scheming how to cover Johnson is problematic because he’ll line up in a variety of different ways in offensive coordinator Scott Linehan’s system. Double teams and bracketed coverage sound great — and necessary — in principle, but the Lions effectively move him around various formations to create favorable matchups for him against the defense.

With that in mind, many have suggested that defensive coordinator Dean Pees assign the 6-foot-2 Smith — who’s been the team’s best cornerback this season — to follow Johnson wherever he lines up. Such a strategy goes against the Ravens’ normal way of keeping Smith at right cornerback and Lardarius Webb on the left side in the base defense.

The third-year defensive back Smith has embraced being physical against top receivers such as Cincinnati’s A.J. Green and Chicago’s Brandon Marshall, often getting the best of those matchups this season. Finally living up to the hype of being a first-round pick in the 2011 draft, Smith said he’d embrace the opportunity to shadow Johnson wherever he lines up if that’s what the Ravens ask him to do.

“Absolutely,” Smith said. “Prime-time television in front of the nation? We don’t move around a lot because we’ve got a lot of confidence in our corners. Whatever the game plan we bring on Monday night, that’s how we’re going to bring it. If they ask us to move and do things, we’re always going to be willing to do that.”

The Ravens secondary has spoken this week of embracing the challenge of slowing down Johnson, but they’ll need to avoid giving up the big play that’s plagued them all season. Baltimore has surrendered 16 pass plays of 40 or more yards this season — most in the NFL — while lacking a true free safety in the secondary.

Johnson alone has 20 receptions of 20 or more yards this season as his speed coupled with his ability to break tackles often leads to explosive plays on even shorter passes from quarterback Matthew Stafford. Missed assignments and shaky tackling have plagued the back end of the defense at various points this season, including the final two minutes of their win over Minnesota in which the Ravens gave up a 41-yard touchdown run and a 79-yard touchdown pass.

“Sometimes a team makes a great play,” Smith said. “Sometimes, it’s us with a mental error, doing something that we don’t usually do throughout the first four quarters of our game. Something like that [happens], and some big plays pops.”

Even if Smith, Webb, and No. 3 cornerback Corey Graham are at the top of their game in trying to cover Johnson, the Ravens must try to revitalize a pass rush that’s largely been in hibernation over the last two games. Baltimore didn’t record a quarterback sack against Pittsburgh or Minnesota as the defense battled Ben Roethlisberger and snow-covered field conditions in successive weeks.

Getting pressure won’t be easy as the Detroit offensive line has allowed only 15 sacks all season and Stafford likes to get rid of the ball quickly, meaning the Ravens must get hands up in passing lanes and at least provide enough discomfort to force quicker-than-normal throws if they can’t get to the Lions signal-caller in the pocket. Turnovers have been a problem for an otherwise-explosive offense as Stafford will rush through his progressions and force throws that sometimes aren’t there — even to Johnson.

The Ravens know their task is a tall one as they face the league’s second-ranked offense with Johnson the biggest reason why. The defense’s goal will be to keep him in front of the secondary, settling for completions with the goal of preventing game-changing plays.

But that’s the intention of opposing defenses week after week, with few units finding success.

“We’ve got our work cut out for us,” linebacker Elvis Dumervil said. “These are the games that we have to put that work in and definitely put that work in for earlier in the year. It will be a great challenge.”

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Our Ravens/Steelers “Pats on the Ass”

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Our Ravens/Steelers “Pats on the Ass”

Posted on 29 November 2013 by Glenn Clark

After every Baltimore Ravens victory, Ryan Chell and I take to the airwaves on “The Creative Deck Designs Postgame Show” on AM1570 WNST.net to offer “Pats on the Ass” to players who have done something to deserve the honor.

We give pats to two defensive players, two offensive players and one “Wild Card”-either another offensive or defensive player, a Special Teams player or a coach. We offer a “Pat on Both Cheeks” to someone who stands out, our version of a “Player of the Game.” Ryan and I select five different players/coaches each.

Here are our “Pats on the Ass” following the Ravens’ 22-20 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers Thanksgiving night at M&T Bank Stadium…

Glenn’s Pats…

5. Bernard Pierce

 

4. James Ihedigbo

 

3. Lardarius Webb

 

2. Torrey Smith

1. Justin Tucker (Pat on Both Cheeks)

(Continued on Page 2….)

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Ravens-Jets: Inactives and pre-game notes

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Ravens-Jets: Inactives and pre-game notes

Posted on 24 November 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

BALTIMORE — It’s rare to find a game with playoff implications between two teams lacking a winning record, but that’s exactly where the Ravens and Jets find themselves in the muddled AFC wild-card picture in late November.

The 5-5 Jets come to Baltimore currently holding the No. 6 seed in the conference by way of a tiebreaker over the Miami Dolphins, but a Ravens win would pull them even with the Jets and Baltimore already holds a head-to-head tiebreaker against Miami with the Week 5 win over the Dolphins. Of course, the Ravens view the start of a three-game homestand as a golden opportunity to not only climb back to and above the .500 mark but to solidify their chances of advancing to the postseason for a sixth consecutive season under coach John Harbaugh.

Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (knee) will play after being listed as questionable and being deemed a game-time decision on Friday. The Pro Bowl nose tackle went through a pre-game warmup with defensive line coach Clarence Brooks, firing out of a three-point stance several times to test the explosiveness and stability of his left knee.

It will be interesting to see how the Ravens handle his workload considering he logged only one practice this week and another game awaits in just four days with the Steelers coming to town Thanksgiving night.

As we learned Saturday, tight end Dennis Pitta (hip) remains on injured reserve with the designation to return after the Ravens elected not to place him on the 53-man roster for Sunday’s meeting with the Jets. Pitta practiced all week, but the organization wants to take its time in determining that Pitta is healthy and ready to return to live-game action.

As expected, cornerback Lardarius Webb (abs) and inside linebacker Daryl Smith (hamstring) are active and will start despite being listed as questionable on the final injury report of the week. Neither player’s status was really in doubt after they practiced on a limited basis all week.

Wide receiver Brandon Stokley (groin) is active for the first time since Week 3, which might be a sign of the Ravens emphasizing the short passing game with the high winds expected throughout the game. Fellow receiver Deonte Thompson is inactive for Sunday’s game.

Meanwhile, the Jets will be without top receiver Jeremy Kerley (elbow), who was ruled out on Saturday after initially being listed as doubtful against the Ravens.

For the third straight game in which the Ravens have been involved, high winds will be a factor as temperatures are only expected to rise to the mid-30s. Winds will be as high as 26 miles per hour, but at least the Ravens should be used to such conditions after the brutal weather in Chicago last week.

Sunday marks the ninth time the Ravens and the Jets have met in the regular season with Baltimore holding an impressive 7-1 record in the all-time series. The Ravens have won seven straight while New York has never beaten them in Baltimore and last won a game over the Ravens in 1997.

The Ravens are wearing purple jerseys with black pants while the Jets will don white tops with white pants on Sunday afternoon.

The referee for Sunday’s game will be Jeff Triplette.

Here are Sunday’s inactives:

BALTIMORE
CB Asa Jackson
S Omar Brown
RB Bernard Scott
OL Ryan Jensen
WR Deonte Thompson
LB John Simon
DT Brandon Williams

NEW YORK
QB David Garrard
WR Jeremy Kerley
RB Alex Green
LB Garrett McIntyre
G Will Campbell
T Ben Ijalana
OL Oday Aboushi

Follow WNST on Twitter throughout the afternoon for updates and analysis as Drew Forrester, Nestor Aparicio, and I bring live coverage from M&T Bank Stadium throughout the day.

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Ngata questionable for Jets game after returning to practice Friday

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Ngata questionable for Jets game after returning to practice Friday

Posted on 22 November 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata joined the rest of his teammates on the field for the final full practice of the week and is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the New York Jets.

Listed as a limited participant after sitting out on Wednesday and Thursday, Ngata (left knee) was suited up during the portion of the workout open to the media. The 340-pound defensive lineman played catch and did some light high-knee movement but was not very active during the first 20 minutes of practice.

Ngata hadn’t taken part in a practice since injuring his left knee two weeks ago against the Cincinnati Bengals even though he returned to finish playing in that game. The Ravens used a combination of Terrence Cody, DeAngelo Tyson, and rookie Brandon Williams in Ngata’s absence last Sunday.

“He practiced today, so we’ll just have to see how he comes out of that right now,” coach John Harbaugh said. “And it will be interesting to see how he fared and how he feels tomorrow. We’ll just have to see how he’s doing.”

Cornerback Lardarius Webb (abs) and linebacker Daryl Smith (thigh) are also listed as questionable but are both expected to play after practicing on a limited basis all week. Wide receivers Marlon Brown (knee) and Brandon Stokley (thigh) are both probable for Sunday’s game.

Tight end Dennis Pitta (hip) did extensive individual work during Friday’s practice, running routes and cutting well while working with tight ends coach Wade Harman. It was the most active Pitta had looked in his three days during the viewing portion of practices.

The Ravens would need to place Pitta on the 53-man roster by 4 p.m. on Saturday in order for him to play against the Jets. He said several times Wednesday about a need to take things slow in his return to the practice field, but the Ravens also have a history of being aggressive in activating some players coming back from injuries over the last couple years.

“We’re going to see how I feel tomorrow. We’ll see how I feel the next day and then go from there,” Pitta said. “There’s always an adjustment when you’re doing it for the first time again. It comes back quick and it’s feeling good. I’ll just continue to keep working on it and get it more comfortable.”

Harbaugh said “there is always a chance” that Pitta could play on Sunday, but it would still be considered a surprise if the fourth-year tight end suited up this quickly after his return to practice. The Ravens are not required to list Pitta on the injury report since he is not part of the active roster.

The Baltimore coach revealed that left guard Kelechi Osemele underwent back surgery earlier this week and the procedure was “very successful.” The expected recovery time is three to four months after the second-year lineman was officially placed on injured reserve Nov. 8.

“He was in a little bit of pain,” Harbaugh said. “I had a chance to spend some time with him and his mom and his fiancee yesterday. He walked through the building, so he’s up and walking, very gingerly. But he’ll start his recovery and his rehab now.”

The Jets listed linebacker Garrett McIntyre (knee) and wide receiver Jeremy Kerley (elbow) as doubtful for Sunday’s game but designated tight end Kellen Winslow (knee) and wide receiver Santonio Holmes (foot/hamstring) as probable despite each missing practices this week.

The referee for Sunday’s game will be Jeff Triplette.

Though Sunday’s forecast in Baltimore pales in comparison to the severe conditions witnessed in Chicago, the Ravens will once again deal with high winds as temperatures are expected to be in the mid-30s with winds up to 24 miles per hour.

Here is the final injury report of the week:

BALTIMORE
QUESTIONABLE: DT Haloti Ngata (knee), LB Daryl Smith (thigh), CB Lardarius Webb (Abs)
PROBABLE: WR Marlon Brown (knee), WR Brandon Stokley (thigh)

NEW YORK
DOUBTFUL: LB Garrett McIntyre (knee), WR Jeremy Kerley (elbow)
PROBABLE: OL Willie Colon (calf), CB Antonio Cromartie (hip), DL Kenrick Ellis (back), QB David Garrard (knee), WR Stephen Hill (knee), WR Santonio Holmes (foot/hamstring), WR David Nelson (illness), WR Greg Salas (finger), TE Kellen Winslow (knee)

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Ravens list six starters as questionable against Bears for Sunday

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Ravens list six starters as questionable against Bears for Sunday

Posted on 15 November 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens saw three players return to the practice field on Friday before listing six starters as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears.

The players given that designation included nose tackle Haloti Ngata (knee), cornerbacks Lardarius Webb (groin) and Jimmy Smith (groin), inside linebacker Daryl Smith (hamstring), safety James Ihedigbo (toe), and wide receiver Marlon Brown, who was a new addition to the injury report after sitting out Friday’s practice.

Webb, Daryl Smith, and defensive end Chris Canty (knee) returned to the practice field after missing time earlier in the week. Canty was added to Thursday’s injury report as a non-participant while the other two were sidelined on Wednesday and Thursday.

“Those guys have all done a good job,” said coach John Harbaugh, who deferred to the injury report released later in the day when asked about the team’s health. “They all work really hard & do everything they can to get back.”

Ngata was present and suited up to practice during the portion open for media viewing but was listed as a non-participant. However, the fact that he made it to the field could be interpreted as a positive sign for his status after spraining his left knee and temporarily leaving the field during last Sunday’s win over the Cincinnati Bengals.

Smith deemed himself healthy enough to play against the Bears as he’s missed four practices over the last two weeks with what’s listed as a thigh injury. He left the field gingerly in overtime before the Ravens prevailed 20-17 to improve their record to 4-5 on the season.

“I feel pretty good, ready to go,” said Smith after working on a limited basis Friday. “Hopefully it won’t be a habit, but I took a couple days to do a little rehab and let everything settle down and rest. I’m looking forward to Sunday.”

Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs (neck) practiced fully after being added to the report as a limited participant due to a reported collision in Thursday’s practice. He and Canty were both designated as probable to play on Sunday.

Ihedigbo and Jimmy Smith practiced on a limited basis all week, making it very likely that both will play despite being given the questionable designation..

Sunday’s forecast in Chicago is calling for strong storms and high winds with an 80-percent chance of precipitation and winds gusting up to 28 miles per hour. Despite that less-than-promising combination, temperatures are expected to rise into the low 60s.

“Footing will be an issue there,” said Harbaugh about the conditions and how they can impact the overall game plan. “It’s probably more of a situation where you have the various game-plan options that you need plays-wise and things like that available, but you won’t know until you start playing the game how it’s going to affect the game.”

The referee for the game between the Ravens and Bears will be Gene Steratore.

Here is the final injury report of the week:

BALTIMORE
QUESTIONABLE – DT Haloti Ngata (knee), LB Daryl Smith (thigh), CB Lardarius Webb (groin), Marlon Brown (knee), S James Ihedigbo (toe), CB Jimmy Smith (groin)
PROBABLE – DE Chris Canty (knee), RB Bernard Pierce (toe/knee), WR Brandon Stokley (thigh), LB Terrell Suggs (neck)

CHICAGO
OUT: LB Lance Briggs (shoulder), QB Jay Cutler (ankle), DT Jeremiah Ratliff (groin)
DOUBTFUL: LS Patrick Mannelly (calf), DE Shea McClellin (hamstring)
QUESTIONABLE: TE Martellus Bennett (ankle)
PROBABLE: T Jordan Mills (quad)

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Bears passing game dangerous despite backup McCown under center

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Bears passing game dangerous despite backup McCown under center

Posted on 14 November 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Chicago Bears are one of the NFL’s cornerstone franchises built around a reputation of menacing defense that’s stretched across decades of professional football.

However, this year’s team under new head coach Marc Trestman centers around an explosive passing game despite injuries that have sidelined starting quarterback Jay Cutler and thrust 34-year-old journeyman Josh McCown into action for the better part of the last month. With Cutler sidelined for Sunday’s tilt against the Ravens, McCown will again serve in a starting capacity, but the number of pass-catching targets at his disposal qualifies as a new version of the “Monsters of the Midway.”

Of course, the Baltimore defense did exceptional work against Cincinnati’s talented group of receivers led by A.J. Green last Sunday, but the Bears bring a level of physicality that the tall but wiry Bengals receivers do not provide. Leading the way is the 6-foot-4, 230-pound Brandon Marshall, who is coming off back-to-back Pro Bowl seasons and ranks ninth in the NFL with 786 receiving yards and tied for sixth with eight touchdown catches.

“He catches the ball no matter where you put it,” said cornerback Lardarius Webb, who is coming off his best game of the season in Week 10. “If you put it somewhere around him, he can make the catch. That’s what makes him so dangerous. You have to know where he’s at at all times on the field. Wherever he’s lined up, we need to know because he’s a game-changer.”

What makes Marshall so dangerous is Trestman’s willingness to line him up in a variety of places on the field, making it difficult for defenses to find the best matchup consistently. Even if the Ravens are able to harness Marshall, the emergency of second-year receiver Alshon Jeffery has forced pass defenses to pick their poison when electing to bracket coverage on Marshall, leaving the 2012 second-round pick matched up in single coverage.

After an underwhelming rookie season in which he caught just 24 passes for 367 yards, the 6-foot-3 Jeffery is 13th in the league with 735 receiving yards, giving the Bears one of the best pass-catching duos in the NFL. With the Ravens possessing only one cornerback taller than six feet — starter Jimmy Smith — Webb and No. 3 cornerback Corey Graham will need to play in a physical manner similar to how they played last week against the Bengals.

“[Jeffery] catches everything. He goes up and gets the ball,” cornerback Corey Graham said. “I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen him drop a pass on film. If you’re not attacking the ball and going up and making a play, he’s going to get it.”

The news doesn’t get much better beyond that as 6-foot-6 tight end Martellus Bennett has caught four touchdowns and running back Matt Forte is regarded as one of the most dangerous receivers in the league out of the backfield. The Ravens will find size everywhere they look in the Bears passing game, making their ability to pressure McCown that much more critical in Sunday’s tilt at Soldier Field.

It remains to be seen whether defensive coordinator Dean Pees will once again use Webb inside in the nickel package, but the ability of safeties James Ihedigbo and Matt Elam to gain good position in coverage against Bennett will be a major challenge in containing the Chicago passing attack, especially inside the red zone.

Even with an array of power forward-like targets to throw to, McCown must still deal with a defense tied for third in the NFL with 32 sacks. The Ravens were able to harass Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton into throwing three interceptions and will look for similar results against the career backup, who has completed 60 percent of his passes for four touchdowns and no interceptions in three games this season.

Baltimore has talked all week about the takeaway outburst against Cincinnati being the result of preparation finally coming together and will try to prove it wasn’t simply the result of some different defensive looks mixed with good fortune against their division rivals in the 20-17 overtime win.

“You all just happened to see a byproduct of all the work that we put in,” linebacker Jameel McClain said. “We got put in the position to get those plays. I always like to say that turnovers and interceptions are an accumulation of preparation and luck. Some of those plays, [the ball] landed in the perfect position. It’s luck, but it’s preparation for being there.”

Rare chance for running game

The struggles of the Ravens’ historically-poor running game have been discussed ad nauseam, but Sunday may represent their best last chance of hope that the ground production can improve in the second half of the season.

The Bears rank 31st in the league against the run and are giving up just under 130 rushing yards per game this season. The season-ending loss of defensive tackle Henry Melton in September and the current shoulder injury sidelining outside linebacker Lance Briggs haven’t done the defense any favors as the Bears have needed to lean heavily on offense to build a 5-4 record.

It remains to be seen how offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell will handle the workload in the running game after head coach John Harbaugh suggested performance will dictate how many carries struggling starter Ray Rice and backup Bernard Pierce will receive moving forward. Rice is averaging just 2.5 yards per carry while Pierce isn’t much better at 2.8 as both have battled injuries this season.

“We’re working to get better,” Rice said. “I know I’ve worked my butt off to get back on the field to play at a high level. I’ve just got to keep myself motivated, because I know once the opportunity comes and we rip off one of those big gains, we’ll be saying, ‘Well there it goes.’ The day will come.”

If the day doesn’t come Sunday against one of the league’s worst run defenses, it may be time to close the book on any hope for improvement in the Ravens’ rushing attack.

Hester the home-run hitter

CONTINUE ON NEXT PAGE >>>>>

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Ravens missing four defensive starters during Thursday’s practice

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Ravens missing four defensive starters during Thursday’s practice

Posted on 14 November 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Moving closer to an important showdown with the Chicago Bears this weekend, the Ravens were without four defensive starters during Thursday’s practice.

Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (knee), cornerback Lardarius Webb (groin), and inside linebacker Daryl Smith (thigh) were all absent for the second straight day. Each played in last Sunday’s 20-17 overtime win against the Cincinnati Bengals, but Ngata and Smith both left the game at different points and were expected to be limited in practices this week.

Webb spoke to reporters in the locker room prior to Thursday’s workout and did not appear to be noticeably favoring an injury.

Defensive end Chris Canty (knee) was the only new absence on Thursday after he practiced and was not listed on the injury report a day earlier. Canty also addressed reporters prior to sitting out practice and gave no indication that he was dealing with an injury.

Cornerback Jimmy Smith (groin) and strong safety James Ihedigbo (toe) were both present and working after being listed as a limited participant on Wednesday’s injury report.

Linebacker Terrell Suggs (neck) was added to the injury report as a limited participant.

Meanwhile, Chicago added starting tight end Martellus Bennett (ankle) to their injury report after he didn’t participate on Thursday.

Here is Thursday’s injury report:

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: DT Haloti Ngata (knee), LB Daryl Smith (thigh), CB Lardarius Webb (groin), DE Chris Canty (knee)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: S James Ihedigbo (toe), CB Jimmy Smith (groin), LB Terrell Suggs (neck)
FULL PARTICIPATION: RB Bernard Pierce (toe/knee), WR Brandon Stokley (thigh)

CHICAGO
OUT: LB Lance Briggs (shoulder), QB Jay Cutler (ankle)
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: LS Patrick Mannelly (calf), DE Shea McClellin (hamstring), DT Jeremiah Ratliff (groin), TE Martellus Bennett (ankle)
LIMITED: T Jordan Mills (quad)

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Webb, Ngata, D. Smith missing from Wednesday’s practice

Posted on 13 November 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Fresh off their best defensive performance of the season in Week 10, the Ravens were without three defensive starters in returning to the practice field on Wednesday to continue preparations for the Chicago Bears.

Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, cornerback Lardarius Webb, and linebacker Daryl Smith were all absent during Wednesday’s practice. Ngata temporarily left Sunday’s win over the Cincinnati Bengals with a left knee injury but returned to action and deemed himself fine in the Ravens locker room following the game.

Smith missed two days of practice last week while dealing with a hamstring injury and left the field gingerly in overtime of Sunday’s game, acknowledging to reporters afterward that his hamstring was still tight. The 31-year-old linebacker was listed as questionable on the final injury report for the Bengals game before finishing with nine tackles.

Webb (groin) recorded his first interception of the year against the Bengals and did not appear to be laboring when speaking to reporters after the game, making it possible that Wednesday was a simple day of rest for the No. 1 cornerback. Sliding inside to the nickel position in sub packages, Webb was an active blitzer and finished with five tackles and six pass breakups.

Safety James Ihedigbo (toe) and cornerback Jimmy Smith (groin) were limited participants after playing in Sunday’s game against the Bengals. They were listed as questionable on last week’s injury report.

Starting left guard A.Q. Shipley was present and working during Wednesday’s practice after temporarily leaving Sunday’s game with a neck stinger.

The Bears have already ruled out quarterback Jay Cutler (ankle) and linebacker Lance Briggs (shoulder) for Sunday’s game at Soldier Field.

Here is Wednesday’s report:

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: DT Haloti Ngata (knee), LB Daryl Smith (thigh), CB Lardarius Webb (groin)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: S James Ihedigbo (toe), CB Jimmy Smith (groin)
FULL PARTICIPATION: RB Bernard Pierce (toe/knee), WR Brandon Stokley (thigh)

CHICAGO
OUT: LB Lance Briggs (shoulder), QB Jay Cutler (ankle)
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: LS Patrick Mannelly (calf), DE Shea McClellin (hamstring), DT Jeremiah Ratliff (groin)

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Defense offers glimpse of what Ravens will need down stretch

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Defense offers glimpse of what Ravens will need down stretch

Posted on 10 November 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

BALTIMORE — The Ravens defense talked extensively about its need to be more dynamic and to finish stronger late in games after narrow losses to Green Bay, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland over the last month.

A Hail Mary touchdown pass from Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton to A.J. Green on the final play of regulation certainly jeopardized that goal, but the Ravens rebounded in overtime for a 20-17 win to not only snap a three-game losing streak but — for the time being, anyway — save their season. The last-second gaffe received much of the attention following the game, but the Baltimore defense’s aggressiveness in forcing three turnovers and sacking Dalton five times was the most encouraging takeaway from Sunday’s game.

After a series of solid performances that weren’t quite good enough in recent weeks, the Ravens defense was a game-wrecking unit against the Bengals for most of the afternoon on Sunday. Meanwhile, the Ravens offense looked a lot like, well, the Ravens offense after being held scoreless in the third and fourth quarters and failing to run out the clock after a James Ihedigbo interception with 1:55 remaining in regulation.

General manager Ozzie Newsome spent most of the Ravens’ resources this offseason to upgrade the defense, and the results have been solid but unspectacular. While certainly an above-average unit that entered Week 10 ranked 10th overall in yards allowed and points surrendered, the Ravens have lacked the ability to make game-changing plays (entering Week 10 ranked 11th in the AFC with only 10 takeaways) to support an offense that’s struggled mightily all season and have surrendered long second-half drives to eliminate potential comeback attempts.

Sunday’s performance against the league’s ninth-ranked offense and seventh-ranked passing attack was exactly what the Ravens needed to not only rebound from a disappointing first half but to give hope of advancing to the postseason for the sixth consecutive year. If the Ravens are to achieve that goal, a game-changing defense would provide a major shot in the arm to an offense that looks lost more often than not.

“We have the motto that once you put it on tape, that’s what expected of you,” said Ihedigbo, who had two interceptions but inexplicably batted the ball in the air to Green on the touchdown to force overtime on the final play of regulation. “Defensively, we played lights out today. I made the reference back to the 2000 defense — they didn’t give up anything to anybody. And when you go with that mindset, it shows on the field.”

Expecting them to rise to the level of the Super Bowl XXXV defense would be too much to ask, but the Ravens showed a level of aggression not seen all season with defensive coordinator Dean Pees calling an increased number of blitzes that led to Dalton being hit nine times, contributing to his completion percentage falling below 50 percent. However, the most dynamic change to Pees’ defense was the decision to move cornerback Lardarius Webb inside in the nickel package, a position he played with great success prior to the second ACL injury of his career last season.

The change led to Webb’s best game of the season as the fifth-year cornerback collected his first interception and made six pass breakups to go along with five tackles. On a day that included strong performances across the board in the secondary, Webb was the best player on the field for the Ravens.

It remains to be seen whether the Ravens will make it a permanent move as No. 3 cornerback Corey Graham lacks the ideal size to play on the outside — Webb previously played inside when the Ravens had the bigger Cary Williams available to play outside opposite Jimmy Smith — but the 5-foot-10 Webb played more aggressively than he has all season in blitzing from the nickel spot and getting hands up in passing lanes.

“That’s my thing. I always play outside because that’s where they wanted me and that’s where they need me,” said Webb about the position change in the nickel package. “I felt like with me playing safety in college and liking to tackle and eyes roaming sometimes, that’s just my spot. I like that spot; I felt comfortable. With that position, you get to tackle, you get to blitz, you get to cover, you get to do it all. You kind of just get to play football.”

The key to beating the Bengals was providing enough harassment on all levels of the defense to entice the bad Dalton to surface as he did in Miami in Week 9. A secondary that included three players listed as questionable on the final injury report of the week rose to the occasion and limited the Bengals’ big plays other than the 51-yard prayer that was tipped into Green’s hands to force the extra period. However, the defense rebounded to make a fourth-down stop of running back Giovani Bernard in overtime to give the Ravens the ball back at their own 44 before the final game-winning drive.

Third-year cornerback Jimmy Smith had one of his best days as a pro, making five tackles and breaking up two passes of his own, and Ihedigbo and rookie Matt Elam turned in strong performances at the safety spots as the Ravens broke up 17 passes in all. Of course, they could thank a ferocious pass rush led by Elvis Dumervil’s 2 1/2 sacks for lending a hand up front.

“Our secondary played tremendously well,” coach John Harbaugh said. “Everybody is going to talk about the last play [in regulation], which is a shame in some ways. Maybe you will talk about the whole game. I thought the pressure was very good, but our secondary covered a very talented and gifted receiving corps all day.”

The Ravens offered a glimpse on Sunday of what they’ll need the rest of the way to give themselves a real shot down the stretch. The offense was again miserable beyond an ability to capitalize on good field position a couple times in the first half and to put together a 28-yard drive in overtime to set up Justin Tucker’s 48-yard field goal to win the game.

Baltimore must have the dynamic, game-changing defensive effort it got Sunday on a regular basis because the offense continues to show no signs of real improvement. It’s no secret that the Ravens lack balance and have struggled in all three phases of the game at different times this season, but Sunday’s win represented a successful attempt to augment the team’s biggest strength.

The challenge will be repeating it moving forward.

“We have to play great as a defense if we want to get back on track,” Webb said. “And today, from the [defensive] line with all the pressure [to] the turnovers, we played great as a defense as a whole. We’ve got to keep getting our hands on the ball. If we keep getting turnovers, then we can keep winning.”

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Our Ravens/Bengals “Pats on the Ass”

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Our Ravens/Bengals “Pats on the Ass”

Posted on 10 November 2013 by Glenn Clark

After every Baltimore Ravens victory, Ryan Chell and I take to the airwaves on “The Creative Deck Designs Postgame Show” on AM1570 WNST.net to offer “Pats on the Ass” to players who have done something to deserve the honor.

We give pats to two defensive players, two offensive players and one “Wild Card”-either another offensive or defensive player, a Special Teams player or a coach. We offer a “Pat on Both Cheeks” to someone who stands out, our version of a “Player of the Game.” Ryan and I select five different players/coaches each.

Here are our “Pats on the Ass” following the Ravens’ 20-17 (OT) win over the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium…

Glenn’s Pats…

5. Ed Dickson

 

4. Justin Tucker

3. Torrey Smith

 

2. Elvis Dumervil

1. Lardarius Webb (Pat on Both Cheeks)

 

(Ryan’s Pats on Page 2…)

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